Hywel Dda University Health Board is urging patients to continue attending important heart scans and tests, amid concerns that many are putting their health at risk while they wait to complete their Covid-19 vaccinations.
The call comes as figures show a growing number of patients cancelling or failing to turn up for their appointments since new vaccines against the disease began to be rolled out in west Wales. Concerns have been raised that the availability of vaccines has led to some patients deciding to avoid coming to have scans and tests until they have received both of their Covid vaccinations.
As well as the clinical risk to patients of delaying access to these tests, the health board is also concerned about the impact on capacity and demand later in the year, as tests which are postponed now will need to be performed later - meaning waiting times will lengthen.
Clive Weston, Clinical Lead for Cardiology at Hywel Dda, said: “We know that many of our cardiac patients, because of their age and condition, are people who have been shielding and so may be worried about visiting the hospital for tests. Many of them have been attending over years for an annual echo scan and may assume that because the results have been reassuring in past they will be okay now. However, the whole point of these tests is to detect changes in heart conditions that can occur before any worsening of symptoms"
“The key message that we want to get across is that these tests, though routine, play an important part in the management of many heart disorders. Even those who feel well should attend for their appointments to avoid the risk of potentially greater harm to their health. Our hospitals are safe for you to attend, with designated waiting and assessment areas and staff wearing PPE, and we would strongly urge you to continue accessing the care you need.”
Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, added: “As a health board we are becoming increasingly concerned about the longer-term impact on patients who fail to attend these appointments. I would urge anyone who is asked to come into hospital for cardiac and other care needs to do so and not to put it off until another day.”